Every year, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® makes updates to its forms as it examines changes in the marketplace and feedback from members. Here is the overview of the changes made in 2015 to the state forms:
- The “Broker’s Duties” sections in the MassForms® Exclusive Listing Agreements (Forms Numbers 707, 708, 709, 715) were amended to remove the following clause: “the BROKER…shall have no obligation to present any offer once an offer has been accepted and while a transaction is pending.” After extensive deliberation and guidance from MAR Counsel, it was the consensus of the Advisory that in most situations, it is in the best interest of the client to continue to have the opportunity to review offers, even after an offer has been accepted, and therefore should be the standard language. As a reminder, Standard of Practice 1-8 states that, “REALTORS®…shall recommend that buyers…obtain the advice of legal counsel if there is a question as to whether a pre-existing contract has been terminated.” As such, sellers should always work with an attorney when negotiating back-up offers.
- The “Seller’s Statement of Property Condition” (Form Number 700) underwent a significant overhaul. Most importantly, the questions and sections were amended to read in a more user-friendly and understandable manner. There is also a new description/explanation column for the seller to provide additional information within the document. New property conditions were also added, such as information on energy audits, solar panels, and pools.
- Two new facilitation forms were added to the MassForms® library: An “Exclusive Right to Sell Agreement – Facilitator” (Form Number 720) and an “Exclusive Buyer Agreement – Facilitator” (Form Number 720). Similarly to the Exclusive Listing and Buyer Agency Agreements, these two new forms clearly spell out the terms upon which the broker and consumer shall agree when exclusive facilitation is practiced.
- On October 3, 2015, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) and the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) were implemented. In light of these changes, the Advisory prepared the “Integrated Disclosure Addendum – Mortgages” (Form Number 518) that is intended to be used as an addendum to the Contract to Purchase and/or the Purchase and Sales Agreement. Under the new regulations, there are certain circumstances where the closing may need to be delayed in order to allow for sufficient time for the lender to provide copies of the new Closing Disclosure, which will replace the HUD-1 Form. This addendum allows the buyer and seller to agree to extend the closing in anticipation of such delays. It also requires the buyer and seller to use reasonable efforts to provide the closing attorney with information regarding any adjustments needed for closing.
It is important for REALTORS® to remember that, in many cases, real estate forms executed by the parties become binding contracts. All buyers and sellers should consult their personal attorneys to answer specific legal questions regarding the content of these forms.
ABOUT THE MAR LEGAL HOTLINEThe MAR Legal Hotline offers authorized callers access to staff attorneys who can assist members with questions about current state and federal laws and regulations, permissible business practices, and important court rulings affecting real estate practitioners. To take advantage of the Legal Hotline service, a member’s designated broker must first complete and sign an Authorization Form and return to the MAR Legal Department. Once approved as an authorized caller, MAR members may access the Hotline by calling 800-370-LEGAL (5342), sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or faxing questions to 781-890-4919. The hours of operation are Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. MAR compiles and publishes the questions and answers to our most popular inquiries, click here for the archives.
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